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Reclaim The Net

2nd October 2014

7 – 9pm
Digitas LBi, 146 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU


Eventbrite - Reclaim the Net

Watch the live stream here:

20 years ago, in 1994 we brought the Internet to public spaces in London. Manchester, Edinburgh

and other towns followed, creating cybercafes and independent hackerspaces.

Cyberia Cafe, Backpace and the ICA were the new urban digital spaces, inviting people to join the Internet and contribute their pages, games, data, gifs for all to enjoy. New independent hosting companies emerged, providing uncensored and surveillance-free access to cyberspace.

Webmedia, Obsolete, Cyberia Web, Easynet ISP and many others created digital magazines, invented new media, introduced charity websites to provide the early digital content, aimed at “surfers” in the cafes and home.


Early user interfaces were optimising convenience and clarity, helping the customer making sense of the new territories of digital creativity.


Since then, a lot has changed. The American tech giants arrived, trading personal data for “free” services at home and in the city.

Now our High Streets offer “free” wi-fi in exchange for all your personal data and urban cyberspaces are no longer “commons”, overtaken instead by ubiquitous digital surveillance, an avalanche of CCTV spy cameras on the streets and face recognition software in the shops and cafes.

What are the lessons learned from twenty years of Internet in the City and how indie Tech can develop new, independent urban cyberspaces, away from omnipresent surveillance?

Aral Balkan (indiephone.eu) will chair the debate with Bill Thompson (BBC Click), Justin Fielder (ex-Easynet, now Hydro66), Ivan Pope (founder of Webmedia, now founder of Thingmakers) and Eva Pascoe (co-founder Cyberia/Cybersalon).

The event is a fundraiser dedicated to Andy Cameron, an indie new media pioneer who co-founded the Hypermedia Research Centre at Westminster University.



Bill Thompson Bill Thompson – BBC Click  presenter, pioneer of new media in the UK, Bill was Internet  ambassador for PIPEX in the early 1990s and founded The Guardian’s New Media Lab in 1995, setting  up and editing the first Guardian website.

 One of the paleo-Net activists, in the 1980′s Bill was chair of the Community Computing Network, a  non-profit organisation aiming to extend the use of information and communication technologies  within the voluntary and public sector. He was a member of the IBM-funded Social Inclusion in the  Network Society (INSINC) working group.  For many years he wrote a weekly column, Billboard, on the BBC News website, and he appears regularly as a studio expert on the BBC World Service radio programme.

See Bill’s recent talk on the power of Wikipedia at Wikimania 2014.


Aral Balkan Aral Balkan, Chair – a Brighton-based designer with a mission. He is a social entrepreneur creating independent technologies that protect our fundamental freedoms & democracy.  Founder of Indie Tech Conference, Aral is currently working on an independent phone, that is a phone that will not spy on you.

https://ind.ie/phone/ https://ind.ie/phone/


Ivan Pope

Ivan Pope – inventor of the pre-Web ArtNet Bulletin Board (Goldsmith University)  and co-founder of one of the early Web design company Webmedia (London). Currently blazing the pioneering tracks of 3D printing industry in Brighton, Ivan runs Thingmakers.net, a public printing and workshop space and is developing a European 3D printing network  for  commercialisation of the new making technologies, 3d publishing and knowledge sharing tools for the 3d printing community.




Eva PascoeEva Pascoe – a co-founder of Cyberia Café and a pioneer of the cybercafé world-wide movement. Former director of Topshop’s pioneering e-commerce operations,  Eva chairs  Cybersalon, the Digital Futures Think-Tank and is campaigner for the UK’s ‘Connected’ High Street. Currently a Digital Strategy director for The Retail Practice, Eva is developing ibeacon networks for galleries, museums and public spaces.




justinfield Justin Fielder – Justin is a pioneer of independent ISPs, having created Easynet infrastructure. He also headed the R&D team at BskyB before recently moving to independent ventures, developing an indie sustainable hosting, Hydro66, and collaborative bitcoin mining, MegaMine.com.




This event is sponsored by Hydro66. Hydro66 is a Swedish-based data company concerned with building environmentally sustainable data centres.

Suggested reading list for this event:

About cybersalon


  1. i wrote about the early days of new media design practice in:

    ‘How to untangle the Web’ Nico Macdonald, Blueprint, December 1996

    Studios and companies interviewed and written about include Online Magic, WebMedia, MovieWeb, Hard Media, G-Spot and Bluedot. My key insight was that ‘the innovative way companies in this sector were acting as their own clients and developing independent projects. This trend was subsumed by the investment bubble, though companies such as ATG and Plumb Design developed important software products that have been very successful’. The continuum between digital agencies and startups still exists and, perhaps, moreso than in other agency sectors, exemplified by companies from 37signals (Basecamp) to BERG LONDON (BergCloud) – though the latter recently closed its doors.

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